Low efficacy of cardioversion of persistent atrial fibrillation with the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator

I. Limantoro*, K. Vernooy, B. Weijs, R. Pisters, L. Debie, H. J. Crijns, Y. Blaauw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure are conditions that often coexist. Consequently, many patients with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) present with AF. We evaluated the effectiveness of internal cardioversion of AF in patients with an ICD. Retrospectively, we included 27 consecutive ICD patients with persistent AF who underwent internal cardioversion using the ICD. When ICD cardioversion failed, external cardioversion was performed. Patients were predominantly male (89 %) with a mean (SD) age of 65 +/- 9 years and left ventricular ejection fraction of 36 +/- 17 %. Only nine (33 %) patients had successful internal cardioversion after one, two or three shocks. The remaining 18 patients underwent external cardioversion after they failed internal cardioversion, which resulted in sinus rhythm in all. A smaller left atrial volume (99 +/- 36 ml vs. 146 +/- 44 ml; p = 0.019), a longer right atrial cycle length (227 (186-255) vs. 169 (152-183) ms, p = 0.030), a shorter total AF history (2 (0-17) months vs. 40 (5-75) months, p = 0.025) and dual-coil ICD shock (75 % vs. 26 %, p = 0.093) were associated with successful ICD cardioversion. Internal cardioversion of AF in ICD patients has a low success rate but may be attempted in those with small atria, a long right atrial fibrillatory cycle length and a short total AF history, especially when a dual-coil ICD is present. Otherwise, it seems reasonable to prefer external over internal cardioversion when it comes to termination of persistent AF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-553
JournalNetherlands Heart Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator
  • Internal cardioversion

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